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 Thursday, November 6, 2014
Turn off all of the settings that hide a camera's base image quality (and potentially destroy image details) and you get a better idea of the image quality a camera is natively capable of. Direct comparisons between DSLR models are also better made under these conditions.
 
I have added an in-depth look at high ISO noise and related image quality to the Canon EOS 7D Mark II Review. Scroll down and click on the color block image to see the complete set of test results – or go directly comparison page:
 
Canon EOS 7D Mark II ISO Noise and Image Quality Comparisons
 
I don't know if I can stake the claim that these comparisons are exhaustive, but I can definitely say that they have been exhausting to create and analyze. The good news is that the 7D Mark II's image quality is exceeding my expectations. I don't think that anyone will argue with me if I declare the 7D Mark II to have the best Canon APS-C image quality ever seen. And that of course says a lot.
 
At this moment, B&H has the Canon EOS 7D Mark II DSLR Camera with EF-S 18-135mm IS STM Lens available in stock and I expect the body-only version to be available soon though it is under solid demand (preorder for earliest delivery).
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 11/6/2014 12:46:22 PM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Wednesday, November 5, 2014
Canon EOS 7D Mark II
My Canon EOS 7D Mark II arrived this week – WOO HOO! I will have lots of information to share about this camera in the very near future, but I kept notes as I unpacked and configured the "Baby 1D X" to the perfect (for me) setup. Following are the 30 (OK, there were initially 30, but I've tweaked the list slightly) steps I take to make an out-of-the-box 7D II ready for use.
 
  1. Open the box, find the battery and charger and plug it in. If you have another charged battery available, you can continue to the battery-required steps without a wait.
  2. While the battery is charging, unpack the other items you want from the box. For me, this is primarily the camera, the neck strap and the Canon Solution Disk.
  3. Install Canon Solution Disk software to get support for the latest camera(s). Canon Digital Photo Pro (DPP), EOS Utility, Photostitch and Lens Registration Utility are the options I manually include in the install.
  4. Attach the neck strap.
  5. Insert the battery (after charging completes).
  6. Power the camera on.
  7. The date and time setup screen will show at startup the first time. Use the Rear Control dial and the Set button to update this information. The GPS feature, if enabled, should take care of precise date/time maintenance going forward.
  8. Insert one (or two) memory card(s) (format them via the tools menu option before taking pictures).
  9. Set the camera's mode to one other than fully auto (the GreenSquare+ mode only provides a small subset of available menu options), C1, C2 or C3 (Custom modes do not retain settings for use in other modes).
  10. Scroll through all of the menu tabs to configure the cameras as follows:
  11. Shooting Menu, Tab 1: Image quality: Use top dial to set RAW to "RAW" and Rear Control dial to set JPEG to "–"
  12. Shooting Menu, Tab 1: Image review: 4 sec.
  13. Shooting Menu, Tab 1: Beep: Disable
  14. Shooting Menu, Tab 1: Release without card: Disable/off
  15. Shooting Menu, Tab 1: Lens aberration correction: All disabled (though I suggest leaving CA correction enabled for most uses – all can be applied in DPP)
  16. Shooting Menu, Tab 2: ISO Speed range: 100-H2(51200)
  17. Shooting Menu, Tab 2: Auto Lighting Optimizer: Off
  18. Shooting Menu, Tab 3: Picture Style: Neutral with sharpness set to "1" (Note: the low contrast "Neutral" picture style provides a histogram on the back of the camera that accurately shows me blown highlights and blocked shadows on the camera LCD. I usually change the Picture Style to "Standard" in DPP after capture.)
  19. Shooting Menu, Tab 3: Long exposure noise reduction: I usually have this option set to "Auto", but my choice varies for the situation.
  20. Shooting Menu, Tab 3: High ISO speed noise reduction: Off (noise reduction is destructive to images details – I prefer to add NR sparingly in post)
  21. Shooting Menu, Tab 4: Anti-flicker shoot: Enable
  22. AF Menu, Tab 2: AI Servo 1st image priority: Focus (I want the images in focus more than I want the time-priority capture)
  23. AF Menu, Tab 2: AI Servo 2nd image priority: Focus (same reason)
  24. AF Menu, Tab 4: Orientation linked AF point: Separate AF pts: Area + pt
  25. Playback Menu, Tab 3: Highlight alert: Enable (flash portions of images that are overexposed)
  26. Playback Menu, Tab 3: Playback grid: 3x3
  27. Playback Menu, Tab 3: Histogram disp: RGB (I want to monitor all three color channels for blown or blocked pixels)
  28. Playback Menu, Tab 3: Magnification (apx): 1X
  29. Tools Menu, Tab 1: Auto rotate: On/Computer only (this provides the largest playback image size on the camera LCD)
  30. Tools Menu, Tab 2: Viewfinder display: Viewfinder level: Show, VF grid display: Enable
  31. Custom Functions, Tab 3: Custom Controls: Set: Playback; Multicontroller: Direct AF point selection; AF area select lever: Direct AF area selection
  32. Custom Functions, Tab 4: Default erase option: [Erase] selected
  33. My Menu: Add tab; Register the following options for Tab 1: Long exposure noise reduction, Mirror lockup, Format card, Date/Time/Zone (great for determining what time it is), Sensor cleaning
I of course make other menu and setting changes based on current shooting scenarios, but this list covers my initial camera setup process.
 
To copy this configuration would mean that you intend to shoot similar to how I shoot – including shooting in RAW-only format. While my setup works great for me (and Sean's setup is nearly identical), your best use of this list may be for tweaking your own setup.
 
If you can't remember your own menu setup parameters, keeping an update-to-date list such as this is a good idea. Anytime your camera goes in for a service visit, the camera will be returned in a reset-to-factory state. Your list will insure that you do not miss an important setting while putting the camera back into service.
 
B&H has the Canon EOS 7D Mark II DSLR Camera with EF-S 18-135mm IS STM Lens in stock and I expect the body-only version to be available soon (preorder for earliest delivery).
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 11/5/2014 8:51:05 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Tuesday, November 4, 2014
Canon EF-M 55-200mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM Lens
Image quality, vignetting, flare and distortion test results along with specs, measurements and standard product images have been added to the Canon EF-M 55-200mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM Lens Review page.
 
Canon EF-M lenses are compatible only with the compact Canon EOS M MILCs (Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras). The 55-200 IS STM is the telephoto lens option in the "M" lineup (though others are available via the EF to EF-M adapter). This lens has good image quality with a very small size and light weight.
 
Please note: Like the T5i, T4i and 70D, the EOS M has image sharpness dialed up (by Canon) in-camera. Even though the EF-M lens test results shown use our standard sharpness setting of "1", you will see the sharpness difference when comparing against EOS 60D-based lens test results. The increased sharpness comes directly at the expense of increased high ISO noise and can be adjusted to taste. Still, this is a good lens.
 
Canon USA is not currently importing this lens. My suggestion is to order your EF-M 11-22mm IS STM Lens from DigitalRev.
 
Special thanks to John S for loaning us this lens!
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 11/4/2014 7:40:30 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Monday, November 3, 2014
Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM Lens
Image quality, vignetting, flare and distortion test results along with specs, measurements and standard product images have been added to the Canon EF-M 11-22mm f/4-5.6 IS STM Lens Review page.
 
Canon EF-M lenses are compatible only with the compact Canon EOS M MILCs (Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras). The results from the 11-22 are very good – this lens will be a great addition to any "M" kit.
 
Please note: Like the T5i, T4i and 70D, the EOS M has image sharpness set higher in-camera. Even though the EF-M lens test results shown use our standard sharpness setting of "1", you will see the sharpness difference when comparing against EOS 60D-based lens test results. The increased sharpness comes directly at the expense of increased high ISO noise. Still, this is a good lens.
 
Canon USA is not currently importing this lens. My suggestion is to order your EF-M 11-22mm IS STM Lens from DigitalRev.
 
Special thanks to John S for loaning us this lens!
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 11/3/2014 10:04:58 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Nikon 20mm f/1.8G AF-S Nikkor Lens
Image quality, vignetting, flare and distortion test results along with specs, measurements and standard product images have been added to the Nikon 20mm f/1.8G AF-S Nikkor Lens Review page.
 
B&H has the new Nikon 20mm f/1.8G AF-S Nikkor Lens in stock.
Posted to: Nikon News
Post Date: 10/29/2014 8:37:31 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM Lens
The Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM Lens Review page has been updated with my expectations for this lens. The bottom line is that I expect the EF-S 24 to become one of Canon's most popular lenses in a very short period of time.
 
This is a lens that everyone can afford. B&H is accepting preorders with expected availability listed as November 2014.
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 10/28/2014 7:52:13 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Monday, October 27, 2014
Canon EOS 7D Mark II
I have loaded the Canon EOS 7D Mark II Review page with my expectations for this highly-anticipated, feature-packed DSLR camera model.
 
B&H is accepting preorders for the Canon EOS 7D Mark II with availability currently slated for October 30th.
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 10/27/2014 8:06:07 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Sigma 120-400mm f/4.5-5.6 DG OS HSM Lens
Image quality, vignetting, flare and distortion test results along with specs, measurements and product images have been added to the Sigma 120-400mm f/4.5-5.6 DG OS HSM Lens Review page.
 
B&H has the Sigma 120-400mm f/4.5-5.6 DG OS HSM Lens in stock.
Post Date: 10/22/2014 8:10:01 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Tuesday, October 21, 2014
Sigma 24mm f/1.8 EX DG Lens
Image quality, vignetting, flare and distortion test results along with specs, measurements and product images have been added to the Sigma 24mm f/1.8 EX DG Lens Review page.
 
B&H has the Sigma 24mm f/1.8 EX DG Lens in stock.
Post Date: 10/21/2014 8:00:26 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Wednesday, September 24, 2014
The complete set of standard test results along with specs/measurements and product images are now available on the Tokina 100mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro Macro Lens Review page.
Post Date: 9/24/2014 9:29:34 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
 Monday, September 22, 2014
The complete set of standard test results along with specs/measurements and product images are now available on the Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Macro Lens Review page.
Post Date: 9/22/2014 6:36:08 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
 Thursday, September 11, 2014
Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Lens
Let me introduce you to the highest quality 85mm DSLR lens available:
 
Zeiss Otus 85mm f/1.4 Lens Review
 
B&H is accepting Zeiss Otus 85mm preorders, with shipments expected to start around September 16th.
Post Date: 9/11/2014 8:15:06 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Thursday, August 28, 2014
Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Lens
With the Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Lens and Canon EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens reviews recently happening back to back for me, a question that I had in my mind for quite some time became highlighted. That question was: "What is the difference between the image stabilization systems found in Canon's EF-S STM and other budget-priced lenses and those found in higher grade lenses including those in the L series?
 
Perhaps the question was most-driven by the "feel" of a large price differential between these image stabilization systems. Determining exactly how much IS adds to the price tag is not easy since there are not many Canon lens focal lengths or focal length ranges available in the same max aperture with image stabilization being an optional feature. Three examples are the 70-200 f/4, 70-200 f/2.8 and 100mm f/2.8 macro lenses. In all three of these instances, the IS version is considerably more expensive, with the $450-$1,050 difference being more than the price of most STM lenses. In all fairness, the IS version of the three just-mentioned lens siblings is a considerably-newer model and newer lenses typically have better technology and are always more expensive. But, it still "feels" like the IS system in the higher grade lenses is more expensive than the IS system in the lower-priced STM (and similar) lenses. This of course drives my wonder about what the difference between IS systems is.
 
So, I asked Canon. My direct question was "Can you explain the differences between the image stabilization system implemented in an inexpensive lens (such as the EF-S 10-18 STM) compared to that implemented in a high end pro lens (such as the EF 16-35 f/4 L)?" Following is the information that Canon USA and Canon Inc. were willing to disclose:
 
EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM
 
  • The compensation optics lens barrel is suspended by 3 springs that hold it in place in the center. This makes it possible to eliminate the compensation optics retaining mechanism in this IS unit.
  • The drive actuator for the compensation optics lens barrel is constructed using the same permanent magnets and coils used in existing IS units.
EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM
 
  • Making use of the technology that has been garnered in existing L-series IS lenses, such as a stepping motor for the compensation optics barrel lock mechanism, this lens is able to achieve both high-performance image stabilization and compactness of design.
  • The moving parts in the compensation optics barrel have been improved from sliding friction to rolling friction by way of combining rolling balls and V-grooves in an ultra-minimum-friction structure. This design improves IS performance while reducing power consumption.
In addition, the following table was provided to me:
 
SpecificationEF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STMEF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM
IS MechanismParallel-moving corrective optics (Single element.) IS unit is based on the one used in the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II.Parallel-moving corrective optics (Group of 4 elements.) IS unit is newly designed especially for this lens.
Shake DetectionVia gyro sensors (1 sensor each for yaw and pitch)
IS ActivationTurned on with the IS switch and activated by pressing the shutter button halfway (SW-1)
Centering/Lock when IS is OffWhen the IS is Off, image stabilization optics are locked in place with a spring suspension mechanism rather than a center lock mechanism.When the IS is Off, the image-stabilizing lens group is centered and locked in position.
Mode SelectionNone (Automatic switching between normal shooting mode and panning mode is determined by gyro sensor signal.)
Vibration Reduction (Based on CIPA Standards)Equivalent to 4 shutter speed steps faster (Focal length 18mm, 35mm equivalent: 29mm, using EOS 7D)Equivalent to 4 shutter speed steps faster (Focal length 35mm, using EOS-1D X)
Dynamic IS/Hybrid ISNone

 
While not completely revealing, the above information does show some of the IS design differences between these lens classes.
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 8/28/2014 8:44:46 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Thursday, August 21, 2014
Ewa-Marine U-B 100 Underwater Housing
Just Posted: Ewa-Marine U-B 100 Underwater Housing Review
 
The very useful Ewa-Marine U-B 100 has been difficult to find in stock this spring and summer, but B&H is showing this item as being in stock at this moment.
 
 
On a side note ... I've been spending a very large number of hours re-architecting the 10-year-old technology this site is built on – to stop the server meltdowns that are happening too frequently. The site's content and functionality should not be changing as I incrementally roll out updates, but please report any errors you find as the changes are very intrusive. The end result will be a better experience for you.
Post Date: 8/21/2014 8:38:55 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
 Monday, August 4, 2014
Canon Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX II Flash Reflection
Just posted: Canon Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX II Flash Review
 
The MR-14EX is a great addition to a macro lens kit, making otherwise very challenging photos easy to capture.
 
B&H has the Canon Macro Ring Lite MR-14EX II Flash in stock.
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 8/4/2014 7:08:09 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
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